Google acquires travel software company for $700 million

Courtesy warrentedarrest/Flickr

The Justice Department has given Google the green light to purchase ITA Software, a Cambridge, Mass-based company that organizes airline data and controls the reservation systems of most major US airlines and online fare-comparison sites such as Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Hotwire. Google announced their intentions to acquire the company last July.

Antitrust regulators reviewed the deal, and approved the $700 million acquisition provided that Google comply with certain conditions. Google will be required to license the software to other companies, and cannot access any proprietary data or technology that exist in the ITA system. Google has stated that they will honor ITA's existing contracts and extend them into 2016.

This acquisition may very well revolutionize the way we search for airfares. If all goes according to plan, type "flights to somewhere sunny for under $500 in May" and your search results will give you exact flight times, prices, and quick links to airlines and travel websites where you can buy a ticket. Although ITA does not sell tickets and this is unlikely to change under Google's direction, other online fare-comparison sites—such as Kayak, HipMunk and Bing—may be hurt by the merger.

What do you think? Is this good for travelers? What would you like to see in a travel search engine or fare comparision site?

— Madeline Grimes


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